Yes! You have read the title right – A butterfly controls your body!

The butterfly being referred here is the thyroid gland – the butterfly shaped gland that controls the metabolism of our body.

Thyroid Gland
Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long gland that is present in the front of the throat below ‘Adam’s Apple’.

Thyroid hormone is responsible for controlling many of the body’s vital functions like

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Body weight
  • Muscle strength
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Skin Texture
  • Hair Growth

 

When there is a problem with the thyroid, you are in for great trouble!

Let us look at the bigger picture now.

 

The Endocrine System

The collection of glands those responsible for producing hormones in order to regulate metabolism, growth, sexual function, tissue function, mood, sleep and other things is called Endocrine system.

The glands that form the endocrine system

 

The Endocrine    System Includes

 

Pituitary
Para thyroid
Adrenal
Pancreas
Ovaries
Thyroid
Testicles

 

The endocrine system affects the entire body.

Every gland secretes a different hormone which is targeted towards certain organ and tissue.

When the hormone levels are high or low in the blood, then it indicates problem in the particular gland that produces the hormones.

 

The Thyroid Gland

thyroid gland
thyroid gland

The thyroid is one of the major glands in the endocrine system that produces, stores and releases into the bloodstream.

The two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland with the help of iodine from the food we intake are Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4).

These hormones are responsible for the body’s vital functions as mentioned above. The most important function is the regulation of heart rate and the metabolism.

The pituitary and the hypothalamus communicate with the thyroid gland in order to maintain the T3 and T4 levels.

When the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland (by releasing the TSH Releasing hormone), the pituitary gland produces TSH (Thyroid stimulating Hormone) to signal the thyroid to produce T3 and T4.

When T3 or T4 levels are low in the bloodstream, the pituitary gland produces more TSH to indicate the thyroid gland to produce more T3 and T4 and vice versa.

 

Hypothyroid and Hyperthyroid

When the T3 and T4 are low in the body, it means the thyroid hormone production is below normal (hypothyroidism).

Causes Of Hypothyroidism

Common causes for hypothyroidism are autoimmune disorders, medications, problem with pituitary gland, iodine deficiency or removal of thyroid.

Hypothyroidism may show symptoms of

  • Increase in cholesterol levels
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Tiredness
  • Dry hair leading to hair loss and dry skin
  • Sensitivity to cold temperature
  • Depression
  • Period problems
  • Muscle Pain
  • Constipation

When T3 and T4 are high in the bloodstream, it means that the thyroid hormone production is above the normal level (hyperthyroidism).

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

The common causes of hyperthyroidism are Grave’s Syndrome, Functioning Adenoma, Toxic multinodular Goiter, Excessive intake of thyroid hormones, Abnormal secretion of TSH and inflammation of thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism may show symptoms of

  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings
  • Hyperactivity and nervousness
  • Sweating
  • Trembling of hand
  • Hair loss
  • Menstrual problems
  • Rapid heart rate

 

How to Diagnosis Thyroid Malfunction

Hypothyroidism is detected with the help of blood tests to check the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. In patients with hypothyroid, T3 and T4 are usually decreased.

However, in case of earlier stage in hypothyroidism, T3 and T4 appear to be normal.

Hence, the best way to confirm this is to look into the TSH which would be elevated in the case of hypothyroid patients.

Hyperthyroid is diagnosed through blood tests to measure the amount of TSH in the bloodstream.

There are also certain specific tests like the antibody screening, thyroid scans, and using radioactively active iodine that help in detecting the exact cause.

Sometimes the functioning of hypothalamus and pituitary is also tested.

 

Treatment

Hypothyroidism is usually treated with synthetic levothyroxine (T4) as it is the most stable form of thyroid hormone.

For patients with underlying heat disease, the dosage is carefully given and monitored. Treatment for hypothyroidism is monitored in six weeks’ interval.

Blood tests are taken periodically to determine the correct amount of thyroid replacement being given.

Treatment of hyperthyroidism may differ according to the severity of the disease. The symptoms such as palpitation is treated with the help of medications.

Sometimes, anti-thyroid drugs are taken to control the secretion of thyroid hormone.

If the thyroid is overactive, treatment with radioactive iodine is sometimes recommended in order to destroy the thyroid and then thyroid replacement therapy is continued.

In rare cases, surgery is performed to remove the whole or part of the affected thyroid.

 

Diet

For Hypothyroidism, foods like Fish, Nuts, Whole Grains, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Seaweeds, Dairy and Beans are recommended.

Foods like Soy, Cruciferous vegetables, Gluten, Fatty Foods, Sugary foods, Processed foods, Excess fibre, Coffee and Alcohol needs to be avoided.

For Hyperthyroidism, foods like berries, broccoli, Salmon, Turkey and Yoghurt are recommended.

Foods like Suspected food allergens, High-Glycaemic carbs, Goitrogenic foods, Unhealthy fats, Alcohol and Caffeine needs to be avoided.

 

Problems with thyroid should not be avoided. Ignoring the symptoms would lead to serious health issues that would be even life-threatening. If you have any of the symptoms, then consult an endocrinologist immediately to get your thyroid tested and treated.

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20 comments on “Did You Know A Butterfly Controls Your Body”

  1. Very useful post Menaka. This also reminds me, i need to get both TSH and cholesterol checked for myself. I was having some chest pain the other day!

  2. oh Nidhi! please take care dear. Thyroid problem once started becomes a real pain. taking the tablet prescribed at the right time is very important.

  3. Yes! I have experimented on all of these too. There are good asanas in Yoga for hypothyroidism, just researching on them and finding the balance.Thanks Chicky for stopping by.

  4. I have hypothyroidism. Have done a lot of research on it in the past 8 years. Soy definitely must be avoided. And it’s better to take shorter meals more frequently. Pranayam helps. I have finally started doing pranayam for it, and I see some improvement in just 2 months.

  5. Very useful post. I’ve had a thyroid disorder for almost 9 years now – and those T3/T4 levels have given me a lot of grief throughout 🙁

  6. Very informative post Menaka and useful too. Glad you wrote about it. My MIL had it and it is something which needs proper medication and care.

  7. Yes Jini, I am trying to find some things exactly like what you are speaking of, how to make sure that our thyroid hormone stays healthy and working always..

  8. Very informative post Menaka, especially since thyroid problems seem to be becoming quite common these days. I wonder if there are things we can do to avoid contracting thyroid problem? Or is it somewhat beyond our control?

  9. Thyroid has become as rampant as the common cold these days, and sadly most people have so much misinformation about it. Your well written and detailed post answers all questions and clears all doubts, Menaka. Glad you wrote this.

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